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Cadence of preventative home maintenance

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Trying to get more organized about preventative maintenance of our home for areas that would require external expertise/more significant areas, i.e. not cleaning dryer vents, including:

  • cleaning of gutters (2 story home, so cannot be done myself) - every 2 years
  • roof inspection (annual)
  • pest inspection (annual)
  • clean & inspect main drain line (annual)
  • formal home inspection (5 years)
  • inspection of exterior (brick, stucco, shingles, etc.) and foundation for major issues (18 months)
  • inspection of HVAC by professional (annual)

Any feedback on the candence and/or other major things to make sure to be doing?  Note we are in Northern California, so not very extreme weather.

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Actually, the clothes DO catch on fire. It's the lint that collects in the ducts that's dangerous, because when it catch... (more)

canoeguy1 (Apr. 16, 2017 @ 8:59p) |

interesting, firs ttime i've heard of using galvanized over aluminum for dryer vent, will look into .

rufflesinc (Apr. 17, 2017 @ 7:54a) |

For gutters, just attach a gopro (or similar) to the cleaning wand via a clamp to inspect without having to go up any la... (more)

Shandril (Apr. 17, 2017 @ 12:42p) |

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rated:
Dang, you would go broke having all that done according to your time frame. Houses don't need all that done untl you usually notice an issue.

For example pest inspection. Is this for bugs? You really want all those chemicals sprayed around to help prevent bugs when they find a way inside anyway? Plus most bug companies scare you and rip you off, same with those lawn places doing "treatment" all the time.

But if you or think rodents are in your house then call out the pest company... my 3 cents.

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  • cleaning of gutters (2 story home, so cannot be done myself) - every 2 years     Get a telescoping gutter cleaning wand for $50 and DIY
  • roof inspection (annual).  Unless you have roof > 15 years, you don't have to worry about.  If you live in the tornado alley then and cannot go up a ladder to take a peek at the roof every couple of years then you may want to have a roofer take a look at the roof every two years.
  • pest inspection (annual)  Look inside and outside to see if you have pest problem.  You can buy professional grade pest sprays online and DIY for much cheaper than hiring a pest control co.  Tip: Don't buy the premix sparys, buy the concentrated stuff where you add only about an once per each gallon.  They will last forever. 
  • clean & inspect main drain line (annual) Don't need this unless you have root issues.  If so, have hydrojetting and camera inspection done for around $700 and you're good for next 5-10 years.
  • formal home inspection (5 years) Why?  You know your much better than any home inspector would.  Home inspection is usually reserved for new home purchase.
  • inspection of exterior (brick, stucco, shingles, etc.) and foundation for major issues (18 months) Again, you don't need this unless the exterior of your house is falling apart.
  • inspection of HVAC by professional (annual).  This may be needed if you're not a handyman type person.  I am a DIY type of guys, so I just turn off the gas and electric supply to furnace, open the furnace door and vacuum inside and clean blower motor, make sure that the air filter is clean.  For the hot water furnace, I remove the burner tubes and make sure they're not damaged due to rust and give them a good cleaning job.  Open the chimney cleaning door in the boiler room and make sure no excessive dust etc. 

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Ways to check condition of roof...check gutters for roof particles,particularly the textured part of the shingles. Use binoculars to inspect the roof without having to use a ladder/climb on the roof.

Don't pay for extermination services preventively...just spray Ortho Home Defense around the perimeter of your home both outside and inside. Call the exterminator if you have a specific issue.

HVAC just change the filters regularly unless you have a specific issue, then call an HVAC technician. Also, many utility companies offer insurance on your HVAC system and send a tech out by the next day if you have an issue. Worth buying if you don't have newer HVAC systems.

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I think you are overthinking this, bub. 

1. Clean Gutters? Do it yourself - get a ladder and some gloves. Every 2 years? Shoot, I do mine every 2 or 3 months. 
2. Roof Inspection - get on the roof and look around. Do you have any leaks or removed shingles? Then you're good to go.
3. Pest Inspection - I have a friend who's a pest spray guy - comes every 3 months and charges $40 to spray the perimeter and the garage while looking for any damage/decay. 
4. Main Drain Line - like someone else said, unless you have a problem, I wouldn't worry about this. 
5. Home Inspection - I have never done this since I purchased our house. 
6. Inspection of exterior - this is easy - look at it yourself. If you have a problem, then figure out what it would take to DIY or hire someone.
7. HVAC Inspection - yearly, I agree, but could be a waste. I need to do an annual inspection to maintain my warranty. 

Other things I would add:

8. HVAC drain line - here in FL, we run the AC a lot; so I put distilled vinegar down the HVAC drain line. Prevents any bacteria backup or buildup - do this every 2 months
9. Replace the intake HVAC filter every 2 or 3 months - helps with circulation10. 

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How old is the house? How expensive is it?

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Other than changing out HVAC filters, everything else... fix it when it breaks. It's not rocket science.

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Don't forget to vacuum the coils on the fridge once a year.

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You don't really want people walking over your roof unless they absolutely have to. Checking from the ground (if possible) or a ladder is preferred. Don't need to pay for that.

Buy a gallon of talstar (or generic) for $50. Will let you treat bugs diy for years.

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I'd consider preventative pest treatment if your area has termites. That's probably once each year.

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If you are in an area which gets hail, ask your insurance company to come inspect your roof and siding after a good-sized hail storm. I got a free roof that way (less deductible) on a 20 year old roof which, to me, looked like it was in fine shape for its age.

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Get gutter guards and you'll never have to clean your gutters.

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DIY
It is traditional to inspect air filters monthly depending on air flow, change every 3 to 6 months. Inspect your internal and external air conditioner for dust / grass and leaf blockages monthly. Doing so cuts cost of use (utility) and extends life of equipment. It may vary, but in the Midwest, the standard is professional HVAC inspection seasonally every six months. Most often, little is done, but the professionals check the belts and fans, lightly oil the motors which is something I fail to do. Professional cleaning the duct work helps airflow and keeping cleaner house - reduces kid's allergy problems.  Some folks do so annually - Some at least twice a year.  DIY remove vent covers and dust them - inspect need for professional cleaning.

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lotusgardener said:   Get gutter guards and you'll never have to clean your gutters.
Yep, I got "bigger" gutters put on my home along with screen gutter covers.  Before that, water used to cascade over the gutters like a waterfall.  Best home improvement money I ever spent.

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JW10 said:   Professional cleaning the duct work helps airflow and keeping cleaner house - reduces kid's allergy problems.  Some folks do so annually - Some at least twice a year. 
 

Good points except for the air duct cleaning.  Air duct cleaning offers no benefits except to relieve your wallet of $500. 

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How often should I inspect my home's blinker fluid?

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forbin4040 said:   Don't forget to vacuum the coils on the fridge once a year.
  
That person also forgot to clean the lint out of their clothes dryer exhaust, and refrigerator ice maker/water filters.

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Except for prevention of termites- I'd just wait until something breaks.

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water heater...mine just busted and flooded my laundry room and part of my garage...what a pain to deal with

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Luniz97 said:   water heater...mine just busted and flooded my laundry room and part of my garage...what a pain to deal with
  Water heater is one of the harder items to maintain.

And usually it's just age right?

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Water heaters should be flushed annually and the sacrificial anodes replaced every five years or so.

https://www.amazon.com/Rheem-SP11524C-Magnesium-0-84-Inch-Diamet...

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taxmantoo said:   Water heaters should be flushed annually and the sacrificial anodes replaced every five years or so.

https://www.amazon.com/Rheem-SP11524C-Magnesium-0-84-Inch-Diameter/dp/B008HFW2HE

  
+1 on this. I am not sure about the need to 'fush', but replacing the anodes every 5-10 years seems like it will help preserve the life of it. Although it is something you can do yourself, it seems like it requires some muscle and care.

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ArmchairArchitect said:   Ways to check condition of roof...check gutters for roof particles,particularly the textured part of the shingles. Use binoculars to inspect the roof without having to use a ladder/climb on the roof.

Don't pay for extermination services preventively...just spray Ortho Home Defense around the perimeter of your home both outside and inside. Call the exterminator if you have a specific issue.

HVAC just change the filters regularly unless you have a specific issue, then call an HVAC technician. Also, many utility companies offer insurance on your HVAC system and send a tech out by the next day if you have an issue. Worth buying if you don't have newer HVAC systems.

  I don't want anybody on my roof unless I have a leak. People walking on your roof every year is a good way to decrease it's lifespan.

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lotusgardener said:   Get gutter guards and you'll never have to clean your gutters.
   I've done a lot of research into this and the only product that seems to truly work is the Rhino guard. And even then you're still probably going to have to get up there and wash them off once a year if you have a lot of trees around your house. Eventually things get stuck in them and start forming a matte over time.

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The utilities here give you $50 rebate for a furnace inspection and tune up and the pre-rebate cost is $89-$99 from reputable big companies. So I would do it at least every 2 years on my personal house. 
 

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You will save a lot more by fixing only things after they break.

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jsssm said:   
taxmantoo said:   Water heaters should be flushed annually and the sacrificial anodes replaced every five years or so.

https://www.amazon.com/Rheem-SP11524C-Magnesium-0-84-Inch-Diameter/dp/B008HFW2HE

  
+1 on this. I am not sure about the need to 'fush', but replacing the anodes every 5-10 years seems like it will help preserve the life of it. Although it is something you can do yourself, it seems like it requires some muscle and care.

  
By 'flush', I meant connect a hose to the drain, and let water out of the bottom of the tank until it runs clear without any sediment.
Any time I drained a heater that hadn't been maintained for 5-10 years, the bottom of it was packed with sandy debris.
https://www.plumbingsupply.com/how-to-flush-your-water-heater.ht...

You need a long wrench to loosen the rod, 2' should be long enough, and the torque will move the heater if it isn't full of water.
Just shut off the supply, drain some water to relieve the pressure, and start wrenching firmly but carefully.
https://www.plumbingsupply.com/how-to-change-a-water-heater-anode.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-drive-25-in-breaker-bar-67933... 

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taxmantoo said:   
jsssm said:   
taxmantoo said:   Water heaters should be flushed annually and the sacrificial anodes replaced every five years or so.

https://www.amazon.com/Rheem-SP11524C-Magnesium-0-84-Inch-Diameter/dp/B008HFW2HE

  
+1 on this. I am not sure about the need to 'fush', but replacing the anodes every 5-10 years seems like it will help preserve the life of it. Although it is something you can do yourself, it seems like it requires some muscle and care.

  
By 'flush', I meant connect a hose to the drain, and let water out of the bottom of the tank until it runs clear without any sediment.
Any time I drained a heater that hadn't been maintained for 5-10 years, the bottom of it was packed with sandy debris.
https://www.plumbingsupply.com/how-to-flush-your-water-heater.html

You need a long wrench to loosen the rod, 2' should be long enough, and the torque will move the heater if it isn't full of water.
Just shut off the supply, drain some water to relieve the pressure, and start wrenching firmly but carefully.
https://www.plumbingsupply.com/how-to-change-a-water-heater-anode.html 

http://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-drive-25-in-breaker-bar-67933...

  I wouldn't attempt to flush a hot water heater that wasn't flushed annually. You risk that value not closing and having to purchase a new hot water heater.

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king0fSpades said:   You will save a lot more by fixing only things after they break.
 Not good advice for a gas furnace. Aside from co leak, its a big hassle when they break down in the middle of winter. 

In general, getting something repaired or replaced is cheaper when you're not in a big rush

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Juk said:   

  • roof inspection (annual)


 

Buy a mid-range drone for about $500 and you can check your roof as often as you like.
Charge your neighbors $50 a pop to check theirs and you'll make your money back. Plus you have a fun toy to play with.

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Yes, agreed. It you are close to tall trees, 2 years is like never doing it at all.


Cashman said:   
1. Clean Gutters? Do it yourself - get a ladder and some gloves. Every 2 years? Shoot, I do mine every 2 or 3 months. 

 

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mapen said:   
forbin4040 said:   Don't forget to vacuum the coils on the fridge once a year.
  
That person also forgot to clean the lint out of their clothes dryer exhaust, and refrigerator ice maker/water filters.

  Seriously, the lint is no joke.  Started a fire in a family member's house.

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Annually, go through your house and turn every hot and cold water shutoff valve off and back on. It keeps them from getting rusted or stuck open which will prevent you from being able to turn them off when you really need to.

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I agree with the concept dcwilbur suggests, but I encourage it be done more often. I had a spare kitchen faucet lock up in a matter of just a few months.
Dryer lint would best be removed as often as laundry is done to reduce energy consumption. Certainly every dozen uses at most.

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parmenides said:   If you are in an area which gets hail, ask your insurance company to come inspect your roof and siding after a good-sized hail storm. I got a free roof that way (less deductible) on a 20 year old roof which, to me, looked like it was in fine shape for its age.
 I just learned similar lesson.  After hail storm have roof checked soon so that you can make claim for damage before you sustain any evidence of leakage..  

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Check your water expansion tank, if you have one. They often only last a few years, and then the bladder dies and the tank fills with water.
At that point, two things happen: The tank corrodes and develops a leak, and your water pressure goes up to exterior line pressure whenever the hot water heater activates (if >150 PSI, your hot water heater will start shooting water out the relief valve instead).

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Of far greater importance is checking your house to make sure things were built right in the first place. Getting things brought up to code will save you a lot of money by preventing damage.

Examples:
1) Do your bathroom fans have ducts on them, that vent the moist air outside? If they vent into the attic (or worse: a wall cavity), you will end up with major mold and rot issues, particularly in cold climates
2) If you have a crawlspace in the southeast, is it sealed (vents sealed shut, interface between concrete wall and wood superstructure spray-foamed to make it air tight)? Does it have plastic on the ground? If not, you WILL rot out your floor joists, and invite termites.
3) Is your dryer duct made of metal (not thin aluminum, or even worse, vinyl?) Does it exhaust outside?
4) Is your deck attached to your house with a ledger board that utilizes bolts or lag bolts (NOT nails!)

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canoeguy1 said:   
3) Is your dryer duct made of metal (not thin aluminum, or even worse, vinyl?) Does it exhaust outside?

 

 Is rigid thin aluminum just as bad as flexible aluminum?

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rufflesinc said:   
canoeguy1 said:   
3) Is your dryer duct made of metal (not thin aluminum, or even worse, vinyl?) Does it exhaust outside?

 

 Is rigid thin aluminum just as bad as flexible aluminum?

Solid (thin) steel ducts are fine. If you can't easily poke a hole in it with a screwdriver, it's thick enough. Don't let the ducts come into direct contact with wood surfaces, though (ie hang it with metal straps, and use fireproof foam to seal gaps).

Rigid aluminum ducts? Not so sure. Aluminum can literally burn into ash when it gets hot enough. I wouldn't use that.

I doubt you have rigid aluminum ducts. It's probably galvanized steel. You can tell by looking at the outside. Google "galvanized steel" images and compare the pattern to the outside of the duct. It's very distinct.

Skipping 5 Messages...
rated:
For gutters, just attach a gopro (or similar) to the cleaning wand via a clamp to inspect without having to go up any ladder. If need be, then attach the brush extension to clean most of it. Brush+ extension rod+ clamp purchased from hardware store for about $40. If you don't have cam, maybe get a $30 knock-off from GearBest. The whole thing pays for itself after one gutter cleaning and doesn't take much time, strength, or skill at all.  

The formal home inspection or siding inspection seems like total overkill. You should know if something going on in your home usually. Visual inspection of exterior walls should be easy DIY. For roof, I again use the extension pole + action cam setup to spot missing shingles after major storms. Main drain line, just test it yourself. There are plenty of tell-tale signs usually leading up to it. Percolation sounds when draining washer, etc. If you don't have trees near the lines, very unlikely to be much of an issue. Get it cleaned once if you suspect something but shouldn't need to do annually.

Pest control kinda depends on your house, its history, the area, and your own tolerance but I hate bugs so I'd lean towards an inspection every year or every other year.

For HVAC. I'm not skilled enough to mess much with that beyond replacing air filter on the furnace, water panel on humidifier, and flushing water heater once per year. You could preventively replace anode rods in water heater every 8-10 years. For the furnace, I'd just wait until it fails or maybe replace after 20 years but 20 yrs of inspections sounds more pricey than necessary.

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